Mobility, accessibility and quality of later life
Musselwhite, C. and Haddad, H. (2010) Mobility, accessibility and quality of later life. Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, 11 (1). pp. 25-37. ISSN 1471-7794
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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.5042/qiaoa.2010.0153
Older people are more active and fit than previous generations. Hence, they are more mobile than ever. However, they continue to suffer a reduction in quality of life when giving-up driving. This paper reports research carried out to identify the role of mobility and accessibility in older people’s self-reported quality of life, through an in-depth examination of older people’s travel needs. A wholly qualitative approach, utilising a variety of data collection methods including focus groups, interview and diary completion, was employed with 57 people aged over 65 in the UK, of which 26 were drivers and 31 had recently given-up driving. The findings emphasise the importance of mobility for accessing services and shops. However, the reasons why older people travel and the importance of mobility go beyond accessibility to include the desire for independence, control, maintaining status, inclusion, “normalness” and travel for its own sake. These are all related to an individual’s perception of quality of life. When older people give-up driving their self-reported quality of life is reduced and this seems very much related to a reduction in affective and aesthetic qualities of mobility that a car affords that walking and using public transport lacks. It is suggested that policy and practice needs to consider such motives for travel.